Should we be praying for persecuted Christians each and every day of the year?
Of course! They need our prayer offerings as many are caught in the crossfire of persecution for their faith.
But there is one day each year – the second Sunday of November in most countries – which has been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
And on that day – which is November 11 this year – millions of Christians and thousands of churches around the world will lift up our brothers and sisters in prayer.
Among the most severely persecuted believers in the world are Muslim Background Believers (MBBs). They are former followers of Islam who come to Christ.
They are often rejected by their families and shunned by local communities, prohibited from sharing their faith, threatened, beaten and even killed.
While some Islamic countries around the world claim to tolerate freedom for believers of all religions to practice their faith, the reality for isolated Christian groups and individuals is very different. Thousands of Muslim Background Believers suffer daily persecution.
Open Doors has been working among these oppressed Christians for many years – encouraging, equipping, strengthening and supporting them … making a difference in their lives.
Women like "Adilah" (name changed for security purposes), who has turned from Islam to follow Christ, have chosen to live lives of faithfulness in obedience to God.
"I am frightened," says Adilah. "If my family finds out I have turned from Islam to follow Jesus, they will completely cut me off. And my father could seek to have me killed in what is known in our culture as an honor killing."
Adilah, a young woman from Malaysia, knows she has put her life at risk by converting from Islam to Christianity.
But there is no turning back for her. "I know I have found the truth," she says, "and I will follow Christ, even though it may mean I am killed for my faith."
Adilah's home country of Malaysia is not the only place where Muslim Background Believers live in great danger and daily fear. In Saudi Arabia, Muslims who convert to Christianity could face death. In Pakistan, Christians are kidnapped, beaten or killed; and Christian women are sometimes raped or forced to marry Muslim men.
And in countries like Iran, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, and Algeria – where Muslims make up a significant majority of the population – Christians also fear for their lives every day.
"I was a very devout Muslim, and all I was taught was to hate," states "Abdul" (name changed for security purposes), a Muslim convert to Christianity from the Middle East. "I was taught to hate those who did not worship Allah, especially Christians and Jews.
"But in a vulnerable time of my life, when I began to question things, two families reached out to me and showed me a love I had never experienced before. It was a love that far exceeded my expectations."
Abdul went on to explain, "I found out they were Christians, and even though they did not try to evangelize me, they gave me a copy of the Bible. So I set out to research this Jesus they said was the Son of God – the One who they said gave them such peace and joy … peace and joy like I had never seen before. It wasn't long before I turned to Jesus and accepted Him as my Savior."
Muslim Background Believers are used by God in a powerful way to reach out to their neighbors with the love of God.
- Pray for Muslim Background Believers like Adilah and Abdul who have turned from Islam to follow Christ. Pray they will have the courage to stand strong in the face of persecution.
- Pray that MBBs will continue to be used by God to lead many more Muslims to Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
- Pray that God would continue to give wisdom and protection to Christian workers in Islam-dominated countries as they seek to encourage and strengthen believers who live under such intense persecution.
MBBs don't ask us to pray for them to be removed from the hardships of being a Christian in the Muslim World, but to pray that God will provide opportunities for them to share that gospel. Despite the rise of radical Islam in some countries, there are more reports of Christian converts from Islam than ever before.
For information about how your church, small group or Sunday school class can be a part of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, go to www.persecutedchurch.org.
Dr. Carl Moeller is president/CEO of Open Doors USA